Jets fans are not panicking over Zach Wilson … yet, but you can feel the tension growing. I’m here to do my best Aaron Rodgers impersonation: R-E-L-A-X.
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The requests in my inbox from Utah radio stations to talk about Zach Wilson have been plentiful since April, when it became clear the Jets were drafting the BYU quarterback with the No. 2-overall pick.
I try to do most of them and they are always very nice people. On Tuesday, I was talking to two hosts on The Zone when one asked this doozy, “If you had to bet, will Wilson work out long term with the Jets?”
I felt like saying, “First, let me tell you how the stock market will look in five years, who will win the 2024 presidential election and when Jacob deGrom will actually pitch for the Mets again.”
Some of life’s mysteries are better off being unpredictable. But that does not stop everyone from trying to forecast the future.
That has been the case this week with Wilson. There has been a growing angst among a fan base that has scars from past savior quarterbacks. They have closets with Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez and Sam Darnold jerseys hanging in them. They hear reports of Wilson throwing interceptions in practice in Florham Park. They see missives from Chicago about Justin Fields tearing up the practice field.
Jets fans are not panicking … yet, but you can feel the tension growing.
I’m here to do my best Aaron Rodgers impersonation: R-E-L-A-X.
Wilson has had 10 training camp practices. That’s it. Predicting his NFL future now would be like predicting a newborn’s career choice. He’s an NFL baby. Let him grow.
Patience has become a dirty word in a sports universe that features debate shows and Twitter. Everyone wants to be the first to pronounce someone the best … or the worst.
Here is the truth: You’re probably not going to know whether Wilson is a good quarterback for a long time. Between 2015-20, there were 20 quarterbacks drafted in the first round. How many of those have been good from the day they started and had very few hiccups? Patrick Mahomes fits the bill. Deshaun Watson has been that on the field but now has off-field issues.
The rest? It’s hard to make a definitive statement. Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert are all very promising players but are we 100 percent positive on these guys? I don’t think so.
There are also many examples of players we thought we knew what they were and then things changed. Players such as Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Mitch Trubisky all had moments or seasons that made you think they were The Guy. None of them are still with the team that drafted them.
Jets fans should know this better than anyone. Sanchez looked like the right guy after two trips to the AFC Championship game. Then, things fell apart. Darnold’s future is still being debated.
Let’s also talk about practice “stats,” since some of this angst arises from them. As one of the great Florham Park statisticians myself, let me let you in on a dirty, little secret: Practice stats are dumb. We don’t know the plays they’re running. We don’t know if receivers ran the wrong routes. We don’t know if the coach told the quarterback to be overly aggressive. We have no context.
“We’re not competing to win a game or anything in practice because there’s all different situations we plan for,” Wilson said Wednesday. “They throw us in tougher situations, they throw us in base downs where we got a lot of space where it’s maybe harder on the defense so we’re practicing repetition of all these different situations. You can’t really grade stats or how many touchdowns or how many yards because every play is really what we’re grading.”
Wilson’s first pass in team drills Wednesday was an example. Wilson admittedly tried to fit one into Elijah Moore when he wouldn’t have in a game. Linebacker C.J. Mosley got a hand on it. As he walked back to the huddle, he told his coaches that next time he would throw it to the check-down receiver.
“I can’t be afraid to make mistakes, especially in practice,” Wilson said. “This isn’t a game; this is where I’m learning what I can get away with and what I can’t.”
Another thing to consider is Wilson’s stock soared at BYU because of his ability to make plays “off schedule” or when things broke down around him. He is able to scramble, roll to his right and make a crazy throw to his left. That is not what training camp is. Training camp is the ultimate “on schedule” experience. The plays are supposed to look like they do in the playbook.
So, let’s give Wilson some time to grow and learn and fail and succeed before we declare we know how his career will go.
Now if someone could tell me when deGrom will pitch again …
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Brian Costello